Supreme Court warns police against custodial violence


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Tuesday warned the police that acts of custodial violence will not be tolerated as they cannot behave like the “oppressors of the people”.

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An apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, while warning the police, said: “Policemen must learn how to behave as public servants in a democratic country and not as oppressors of the people”.

The court directed that a copy of its order be sent to home secretaries and directors general of police of all states and union territories.

They shall circulate the same to all police officers up to the level of station house officers with a directive that they should desist from indulging in custodial violence, the court said.

Police should know that custodial violence was against the directions of the apex court and would “entail harsh punishment”.

The court said this in a case in which police wrongfully confined Nandagopal in police custody in Annamalai Nagar in Tamil Nadu on suspicion of theft from May 30, 1992 till June 6, 1992 and beat him to death there with canes, and also gang-raped his wife.

The accused also confined several other persons (who were witnesses) and beat them in the police station.

Describing the conduct of police as barbaric, the court said: “The graphic description of the barbaric conduct of the accused in this case shocks our conscience.”

“If ever there was a case which cried out for death penalty it is this one, but it is deeply regrettable that not only was no such penalty imposed but not even a charge under Section 302 Indian Penal Code (murder) was framed against the accused by courts below,” the court said.

The apex court order while dismissing the appeal by accused policemen Mahboob Batcha and others, said that both the trial court and the high court have found the appellants policemen guilty and we see no reason to disagree with their verdict.